I say “alternate” for a lack of a better word. Chapter 4 in Mad Matters is called, “What Makes Us a Community? Reflection on Building Solidarity in Anti-sanist Praxis” by Shaindl Diamond. She talks about 3 constituencies she researched in Toronto, Ontario that engage in alternate ways of engaging, politicizing and theorizing about mental health/illness. These constituencies are: the psychiatric survivor constituency, the Mad constituency, and the antipsychiatry constituency. I personally would place myself in the Mad constituency.
What I liked about Diamond’s essay (so far, I’m not finished) is that she broken down each group very well and it has helped give me a better understanding what each group stands for, where I fit in and why it is difficult for the groups to work together.
- heart of the political community
- represents those who are deeply affected by the practice of biological psychiatry and sanism
- Not organized around a shared political ideology
- prioritize connecting with people who have experienced the system and improving the conditions of their lives
- peer support and consciousness raising initiatives are seen as foundations of the community
- major focus on stopping forced psychiatric interventions, ending stigma and discrimination, creating accessible survivor-positive employment, affordable housing options, and other non-psychiatric alternatives
- Examples of psychiatric survivor initiatives: Ontario Council of Alternative Businesses, The Gerstein Crisis Centre and Sound Times
- newer phenomenon within the community
- reflects contemporary complexities, divisions, and theoretical trends
- evolved out of psychiatric survivor constituency
- shift from focusing psychiatric oppression to the development of positive understandings of Mad identity and experience
- Mad is frequently used as an umbrella term to represent a diversity of identities that describe people who have been labelled and treated as crazy
- common emphasis on the oppression faced by people who have been oppressed as crazy
- the term covers a wide spectrum of discourses about madness and liberation
- Central concerns are similar to psychiatric survivors, accessible employment, and affordable housing
- greater emphasis on exploring and celebrating individual experiences of madness and developing Mad culture
- Example of Mad initiative: Mad Pride Toronto
- based on a rich history of resistance efforts
- primary goal is to abolish institutional psychiatry, or to at least undermine its power and authority
- often draw upon the theoretical and empirical work of professionals and academics who are critical of psychiatry as well as personal experiences of psychiatrized people
- main organizing principle is focused on political ideology, not identity politics discourses about shared experience
- open to all who are interested in undermining psychiatric dominance whether they have been psychiatrized or not
- Examples of antipsychiatry initiatives: Ontario Coalition Against Electroshock, Resistance Against Psychiatry, the Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault
As I’ve mentioned in past posts I was diagnosed as having Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). I’ve explained personality disorders in part 1 of “I Have A Personality Disorder” and now I’ll explain BPD as I have experienced it.
In the BPD workbook I’ve been posting to Pride In Madness it said that a personality disorder is:
‘a pattern of inner experience and behaviour that deviates from the expectation of the individuals’ culture, which leads to distress and impairment’. (DSM- IV, 1994)
They key that I always remember from this definition as stated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders IV (DSM-IV) is expectation of the individuals’ culture. To me, this means that my disorder was decided by my culture and that if I went somewhere else in the world I may not be considered disordered. I take issue with this because diabetes is diabetes everywhere. Cancer is cancer everywhere. If BPD is not BPD everywhere then how much validity is behind this “illness”?
To explain a personality disorder in general is next to impossible for me and to explain BPD is exactly the same. I end up having to go through the symptoms to explain what it is because without imaginations seem to run wild about what a person with a disordered personality would be like.
While attending/presenting at PsychOUT 2011 in New York I encountered a man who showed me what he thought of BPD. He introduced himself as someone who was studying to be a mental health lawyer under Jim Gottstein, who was responsible of uncovering the dangerous of Zyprexa (http://psychrights.org/about/Gottstein.htm). This man also identified as someone with Bipolar. He asked me what I had and I told him that I had been labelled with borderline personality disorder. He laughed and said “oh, so you’re a pain the ass?” I was shocked! He then proceed to go through the check list to see if I had the other symptoms.
I was extremely hurt and uncomfortable that someone who was supposed to be studying to be an advocate and more importantly who identified as a community member would make such a harsh judgement (even if it was a joke I didn’t like it). I could only respond as politely as possible with things such as:
“I may be a pain in the ass but I’m a very caring person. It is my passion, anger or otherwise that drives me to create social change.”
“Is it attachment issues or me fighting for someone I love?”
While he interrogates my personality problems he tells me of how he would purposely piss off his ex-girlfriend so she would clean his house (cleaning was her response to stress). And I’m disordered? Screw you!
I then had to present at the conference after this chat (which was also him trying to pick me up…..). I was fuming and wanted to leave. I felt I wouldn’t be able to present with the anger bubbling in me the way it was. My fellow Madvocate said that if he came in the room to see the presentation she would ask him to leave. Luckily he did not and our presentation went well.
I can only hope that this idiot has changed his ways and that I showed him someone with BPD is more than their symptoms. He’s lucky I don’t follow the symptoms to a tee or I would have punched him in the face.